Love Wins

h1 January 9th, 2018 by jules

“Paula the cat / not thin nor fat / is as happy as house cats can be …”
(Click to enlarge and read poem in its entirety)


I’ve a few spreads today from Nikki Giovanni’s I Am Loved (Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum, January 2018), illustrated by Ashley Bryan.

This is a collection of primarily free verse poems from Giovanni — some previously published and the rest, brand-new. The poems are about memory, loss, friendship, and family — and (delightfully) there’s one about a house cat, “not thin nor fat,” who tires of her view and heads out to sea (pictured above). “Quilts,” a poem dedicated to artist Sally Sellers, comes from the point of view of an elderly woman, who likens herself to a “fading piece of cloth.” The ending is striking in its poignancy:

When I am frayed and stained and drizzled at the end
Please someone cut a square and put me in a quilt
That I might keep some child warm …

Two poems center on dance, “Three/Quarters Time,” in which a speaker invites someone to dance (“We are the music … we are the song”), and the jubilant closing protest poem, “Do the Rosa Parks” (“do the rosa parks / say no no”). In “I Am a Mirror,” which celebrates black ancestry, readers are greeted with a mirror embedded on the opposing page, surrounded by Bryan’s vivid artwork.

Throughout, Bryan’s artwork, filled with black men, women, and children, loosely interpret the poems, leaving some space for the reader. His lines are fluid and his colors, bright (the pinks, purples, green, blues, golds, and oranges dazzle) — as if we are seeing stained-glass windows in a sacred space. Don’t miss this November conversation both author and illustrator had with Roger Sutton at the Horn Book.

Here is a bit more artwork. …


“We are like a field … of wild flowers … unpollinated … swaying against the wind. …”
(Click to enlarge and read poem in its entirety)


“… How can there be / No Heaven / When tears comfort /
When dreams caress / When you smile / at me”
(Click to enlarge and read poem in its entirety)


(Click to enlarge cover)


* * * * * * *

“Paula the Cat” copyright © 1980 by Nikki Giovanni. “No Heaven” copyright © 2009 by Nikki Giovanni. “Quilts” copyright © 2007 by Nikki Giovanni. All other text copyright © 2018 by Nikki Giovanni. Illustrations copyright © 2018 by The Ashley Bryan Center, a Maine corporation. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York.

2 comments to “Love Wins”

  1. I love Paula, but “How Can There Be No Heaven?” is just… all the things.

  2. Yes, Tanita. Yes to that poem.

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